Woman spared jail over flight grope

 

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The Independent Online

A teacher who drunkenly assaulted an air steward was spared a jail sentence today.

Katherine Goldberg, 25, took two bottles of alcohol on to the Virgin Atlantic flight and was so drunk that she became under the "alcohol-induced illusion" that the man was her boyfriend, Isleworth Crown Court in west London heard.

Goldberg, who pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to sexual assault and being drunk on an aircraft, was on board a night flight from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Heathrow on August 24 when the incident happened.

Prosecutor James O'Connell said at first her behaviour was described by witnesses as "very irritating" because she disturbed them while they were trying to rest.

She was eventually moved to the plane's galley where one member of the cabin crew "took an interest in her care" and tried to calm her down.

Mr O'Connell went on: "However, it was at this point that the defendant's antics changed and became rather sexual.

"She sat on his lap and grabbed hold of his genitalia through his trousers."

She also spoke to the man suggestively and kept "making offers to him", the court heard.

She was heard to tell the air steward: "Let me and you go somewhere. You can touch me anywhere you want, I don't mind."

Mr O'Connell said Goldberg was also heard to say the names of two men.

He added: "In her complete alcoholic funk she was confusing him with her current boyfriend, Clayton, and Owen, a previous boyfriend.

"She was somehow imagining this was her boyfriend with whom she was interacting."

The court was told that Goldberg, who has been suspended from her job as a teacher at a Montessori school, has since admitted to having an alcohol problem and now attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings five times a week.

She also went on a one-month residential course after realising she had hit "rock bottom".

Goldberg, of Crosslands Avenue, Ealing, west London, was fined £1,500, ordered to carry out an 11-month community order and 80 hours of unpaid work, and to pay £250 costs.

PA